Thursday, March 22, 2007
There's a lot more gas about Global Warming, but none of it causes me to change my view: yes, the Earth is warming, as apparently is the rest of the Solar System. The warming trend is hardly alarming: we have had warmer periods in historical times including the Medieval Warm Period. Yes, CO2 levels are rising, and since warm water holds less dissolved gas than cold water, any trend that warms the seas will accelerate that. The levels are high, but we don't really know the effect -- CO2 isn't a very efficient greenhouse gas. Water vapor is.
As the seas rise the surface areas become larger; this increases evaporation, which increases water vapor. Water vapor is a rather efficient greenhouse gas. Higher water vapor content usually means more clouds. Clouds are bright and tend to reflect received sunlight, reducing the insolation reaching the Earth. Models reflecting (no pun intended) this are in a very primitive stage and are not incorporated into the computer models that predict doom (doom now being 17 inches of sea level rise rather than Al Gore's 17 feet).
Enough clouds can produce cooling trends.
Ice ages are far more destructive than periods like the Medieval Warm (many say we should be so lucky as to get something like the Medieval Warm). The polar bears seem to have survived the Medieval Warm (proof: there are polar bears).
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Here's a sample I just made!
Monday, March 19, 2007
Here are some excerpts.
Fortran, released in 1957, was “the turning point” in computer software, much as the microprocessor was a giant step forward in hardware, according to J.A.N. Lee, a leading computer historian.
In an interview several years ago, Ken Thompson, who developed the Unix operating system at Bell Labs in 1969, observed that “95 percent of the people who programmed in the early years would never have done it without Fortran.”
After the war, Mr. Backus found his footing as a student at Columbia University and pursued an interest in mathematics, receiving his master’s degree in 1950. Shortly before he graduated, Mr. Backus wandered by the I.B.M. headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York, where one of its room-size electronic calculators was on display.
When a tour guide inquired, Mr. Backus mentioned that he was a graduate student in math; he was whisked upstairs and asked a series of questions Mr. Backus described as math “brain teasers.” It was an informal oral exam, with no recorded score.
He was hired on the spot. As what? “As a programmer,” Mr. Backus replied, shrugging. “That was the way it was done in those days.”
In 1953, frustrated by his experience of “hand-to-hand combat with the machine,” Mr. Backus was eager to somehow simplify programming. He wrote a brief note to his superior, asking to be allowed to head a research project with that goal. “I figured there had to be a better way,” he said.
Mr. Backus got approval and began hiring, one by one, until the team reached 10. It was an eclectic bunch that included a crystallographer, a cryptographer, a chess wizard, an employee on loan from United Aircraft, a researcher from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a young woman who joined the project straight out of Vassar College.
Mr. Backus, colleagues said, managed the research team with a light hand. The hours were long but informal. Snowball fights relieved lengthy days of work in winter. I.B.M. had a system of rigid yearly performance reviews, which Mr. Backus deemed ill-suited for his programmers, so he ignored it. “We were the hackers of those days,” Richard Goldberg, a member of the Fortran team, recalled in an interview in 2000.
After Fortran, Mr. Backus developed, with Peter Naur, a Danish computer scientist, a notation for describing the structure of programming languages, much like grammar for natural languages. It became known as Backus-Naur form.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
This is an astrometric, observational program, which started in February 1998 at CTIO [Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory]. All sky observations were completed in May 2004. The final catalog is expected not before mid 2007. The second data release (UCAC2) became public in 2003. Positions accurate to 20 mas [milli-arcseconds] for stars in the 10 to 14 magnitude range are obtained. At the limiting magnitude of R=16 [red magnitude = 16] the catalog positions have a standard error of 70 mas. Proper motions [apparent motion of a star across the sky] are provided using various earlier epoch data. Photometry is poor, with errors on the order 0.1 to 0.3 magnitudes in a single, non-standard color.
There will be in occultation of Pluto of UCAC 25823784 on Sunday morning 18 Mar 10:56 UT (6:56 EDT). It will be astronomical twilight for us, so I don't know if it will be possible to see Pluto in the Southeast. In the Southwest US, it should be visible.
Sky and Telescope doesn't even mention it in this weeks pages!! What's that about??
The picture is from IOTA. Go to their site to see the full image.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
Hah! This Ask Yahoo question (Why do most UFO sightings happen in the United States?) popped up on my Gmail Clips this morning which I found completely fascinating! Particularly this paragraph:
The National UFO Reporting Center lists thousands of "close encounters" submitted by users. According to its database, the United States has far and away the most reported UFO sightings. In fact, California alone has reported more than China, England, India, and Brazil combined.
Monday, March 12, 2007
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Here's a Slashdot posting on the subject.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
What's this I hear about an “Optimus keyboard?” Ohhhh, after looking at their site, now I see. It's something I imagined at one time—a keyboard where the key symbols change! Very cool.
“ Every key of the Optimus keyboard is a stand-alone display showing exactly what it is controlling at this very moment.”
(key image from http://www.artlebedev.com/everything/optimus/)
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
Sunday, March 04, 2007
I was using my 7x50 binoculars on the camera tripod (an ideal arrangement!).
Here's an AP posting via Space.com.